Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

to a denial of the facts : so far are they from that, that they ascribe the miracles of our Saviour to magic.*

The Jews in the Talmud, in acknowledging the miracles, make them to be wrought through a correspondence or intercourse with the devil.

Josephus above quoted gives this famous testimony:

About this time a person named Jesus attracted universal notice; he was a man of consummate wisdom, if it be not improper to call him a man. He was eminently distinguished for his extraordinary power of working miracles ; and those who were anxious in the discovery of truth resorted to him in vast numbers, both of Jews and Gentiles. Pontius Pilate delivered him

up
to suffer

upon

the cross : but those who originally adhered to him disdained to abandon his cause when he was under adversity. Agreeable to the predictions of several celebrated prophets, he was seen alive on the third day after his crucifixion. He performed many marvellous acts, and at this day there is a numerous sect of people called Christians, who acknowledge him as their chief.+

That our Lord was a prophet, Phlegon, who was the Emperor Adrian's freed-man, acknowledges; and in his history has related several events which he foretold.

He was betrayed and taken before Pontius Pilate the Roman governor, who unwillingly condemed him to be crucified. The unbeliever Josephus, as we have just

* Seed, rol. ii.

+ Book xviii.

seen, alludes to Pontius Pilate, of whose cruel government he makes large mention to the Jews. This Pontius Pilate, in making reports to his Emperor at Rome, gave to Tiberius an account of our Saviour's passion and resurrection ; of the miracles which were performed by him, and by others in his name; of the multitude of his followers, which daily increased ; and of the opinion which generally prevailed that he was a God. Whereupon Tiberius made a report of the whole matter to the senate, and proposed to them that Christ might be admitted into the number of their gods.

Tacitus, in describing the tortures inflicted by Nero on the Christians, says, they derived their name and origin from Christ, who in the reign of Tiberius had suffered death by the sentence of the procurator Pontius Pilate.

The Jews, says Dr. Doddridge, in some of their earliest writings since those times, call Jesus by the ignominious name of “the man who was hanged or crucified," and his followers “the servants of the crucified person.” And Lucian rallies them for deserting the pompous train of the heathen deities to worship one whom he impiously calls a crucified impostor.

Spartian also assures us that the Emperor Alexander Severus entertained such high thoughts of Christ, that he would have admitted him into the number of his deities, and have built a temple to him, had not his pagan subjects vigorously opposed it.

And Porphyry, he continues, though an inveterate enemy to Christianity, not only allowed there was such a person, but honoured him, as a most wise and

pious man, approved by the gods, and taken up into heaven for his distinguished virtues.

Prodigies attended the death of Christ.- The holy Scripture declares, that there was darkness over the land, while the Saviour hung on the cross, during the space of three hours.

When the Saviour expired, there immediately happened a terrible earthquake : which convulsion of nature, about the same time, is mentioned by three heathen writers, Dion, Pliny, and Suetonius,*

Thallus, a Greek historian, in his third book, speaks of the darkness that accompanied our Saviour's death, and which he, like Phlegon, calls an eclipse.

Tertullian and the primitive Christians appeal to these two writers, and also to the Roman archives, where the account that Pilate sent to Tiberius of the miracles which happened at our Lord's passion was deposited, for the truth of this prodigious darkness.

Phlegon, the famous astronomer under the pagan Emperor Trajan, affirms, that in the 202 Olympiad (which is supposed to be that of the death of Christ), there was such a total eclipse of the sun at noon-day, that the stars were plainly to be seen.

From Suidas, the Christian writer, Origen cites Dionysius the areopagite, then at Heliopolis in Egypt, expressing himself to his friend upon this surprising phenomenon, “either that the author of nature suffered, or that he was sympathizing with scme who did."

This confession of Dionysius was made before his conversion.

* Stackhouse, vol, v.

The rending of the vale of the temple, which is described by the evangelists to have been of itself torn asunder, is testified also to have been rent by the Jewish historian.

He rose again from the dead. This has been already testified by Josephus, who says that, agreeable to the predictions of several celebrated prophets, he, Jesus Christ, was seen alive on the third day after his crucifixion.

Aurelius, the heathen, and master of Porphyry, on reading the beginning of St. John's gospel, swore by Jupiter that the barbarian, as he called him, had hit upon the right notion, „when he affirmed that the Word, which made all things, was in place of prime dignity and authority with God; and was that God who created all things; that he was incarnate, and clothed with a body, and that after his death he returned to the re-possession of his divinity, and became the same God which he was before his assuming a body, and taking the human nature and flesh upon him.

He sent down the Holy Spirit upon his disciples, who by it were enabled to work miracles.--Many of these miracles wrought by the apostles and first christians, through the Holy Spirit, are described in the Acts of the Apostles, in their epistles, and also in the gospels; by the fathers of the church, as well as by ancient historians. Indeed, they carry their own conviction : for that Almighty power that operated in curing sick persons, even at a great distance; which could bring the dead to life, and read aloud the inmost thoughts of man's heart, must be vast, immeasurable, infinite, boun dless.

But let us return to the heathen accounts, however garbled and imperfect, grossly perverted or misquoted they may be.

Pliny says, in a grave epistle to his Emperor, as has been already shewn, that in the provinces of which he was governor the temples of the gods were almost deserted, &c., notwithstanding the severities practised on christians of every rank, sex, and age. Now Bithynia, from which part this heathen philosopher wrote, was twelve hundred miles from Jerusalem. How could so many converts have been made, not seventy years after the resurrection, among Syrians, Pamphylians, Carians, Lycians, and other people, of whom he was at the head, if the apostles and disciples had not been miraculously gifted; gifted with the power to work wonders, and to speak the language of all nations ? Let a rude fisherman of Constantinople be set in the midst of France, much less travel through all her provinces, in which the difference of language is so great and perplexing; or let the same rude fisherman arrive in England, and endeavour in the east, in the west, the north, and the southern counties, in Somersetshire, in Yorkshire, in Wales, in the Highlands, in the Hebrides, in Munster, or in Connaught; let him in either, or any of these parts, attempt to abolish the religion we have so long clung to, and to establish not even that of Mahomet, but one on the divinity of a malefactor crucified in his chief city : what will be his success? Or rather, let us ask, how many persons in this age of travel and inquiry, when many have perhaps seen the shores of Turkey, and some resided in its dominions, how many

« AnteriorContinuar »